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Legal Practice Settings- Nonprofit/Advocacy1:51:22 10/19/2010

The Legal Practice Settings panels introduce students to some of the vast number of careers within the profession. This panel focuses on non-profit and advocacy work. The distinguished panel of attorneys provided vivid descriptions of their practices, work environments, career paths, and professional values.

Panelists Included:

Steve Eppler-Epstein, Executive Director, Connecticut Legal Services, Middletown, CT
Steve Eppler-Epstein is the Executive Director of Connecticut Legal Services (CLS), whose core mission is to provide comprehensive civil legal help to low-income people throughout most of Connecticut, partnering with other members of the legal aid network to cover the state. He has worked with CLS since 1984, when he joined them as a staff attorney. His work has included individual and class-action client service on domestic violence and public benefit issues; legislative advocacy; and community legal education and writing. In 1995 Mr. Eppler-Epstein was hired to be the Deputy Director of Connecticut Legal Services, and in 2007 he was selected to be the Executive Director. As a leader in legal services, Mr. Eppler-Epstein’s priorities are keeping program priorities fresh and relevant in light of changes in the client population; empowering staff to explore change and to pursue client service through the most effective means available; and enhancing the public understanding of CLS’ mission of justice so as to maximize the funding resources available to serve low-income people in crisis. In addition to his work at CLS, he is the Chair of the Board of the Boston-based Center for Legal Aid Education, where he has been very active in the development and deployment of CLAE’s Leadership Institute. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is co-Chair of the Advisory Council to the Judicial Branch Office of Victim Services. His recognitions include the Governor’s Victim Services Award, the Connecticut Bar Foundation’s Legal Services Leadership Award, and the Connecticut Bar Association’s Charles J. Parker Legal Services award.

Laurel Firestone ‘04, Co-Executive Director, Community Water Center, Visalia, CA
Laurel Firestone co-founded and co-directs the Community Water Center (CWC), a non-profit environmental justice organization located in Visalia, California. The CWC helps disadvantaged communities gain access to clean and affordable water. She previously served as the Director of the Rural Poverty Water Project at the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment in Delano under a 2004-06 Equal Justice Works Fellowship. In 2009 she authored the comprehensive Guide to Community Drinking Water Advocacy, and in 2010 she and Susana De Anda were co-awarded the Carla Bard Advocacy Award from the Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform (POWER), awarded to one water advocate in California each year. She currently serves on the Tulare County Water Commission. Ms. Firestone graduated with honors from Harvard Law School, where she focused on environmental poverty law. She has been a member of the California Bar since 2004. A native of California, she spent her last year of law school at Boalt Hall through the Berkeley-Harvard Exchange Program. During law school she worked on a variety of projects combining human rights and environmental law, from working with trash pickers in the major cities of Brazil, to advising indigenous groups in the Amazon who sought to protect their traditional knowledge and genetic resources. She also holds a B.A. magna cum laude in Environmental Studies from Brown University.

Deborah Gordon Klehr’04, Staff Attorney, Education Law Center of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Deborah Gordon Klehr is staff attorney at the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania. The Education Law Center is a non-profit legal advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all of Pennsylvania’s children have access to a high quality public education. Deborah focuses on access to public education for at-risk youth, fairness in school discipline, improving school climate, and otherschool improvement issues. Deborah joined ELC in 2005 after clerking for U.S. District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie in the Eastern District of New York. Before law school, Deborah taught kindergarten and first grade in Hoboken, NJ. Deborah is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.

Michael Risher, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, San Francisco, CA
Michael Temple Risher is a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, the nation’s largest ACLU affiliate, where he focuses on freedom of speech, open government, criminal justice, and privacy rights. He is currently litigating a federal challenge to a California law that requires every person arrested on suspicion of a felony to provide the police with a DNA sample, as well as a challenge to a Northern California school district’s policy of mandatory drug testing for students who take part in activities such as choir, Future Farmers of America, and the math team. In 2008, he helped several hundred homeless residents of Fresno, California win a $2.35 million class action settlement after the city repeatedly destroyed their clothing, medicine, and other personal property without warning. Risher was a Deputy Public Defender in Alameda County from 1998 to 2005. Before that, he taught English and American literature in China, served as the legal affairs advisor for the Lindesmith Center, a drug-policy think tank, and clerked for Judge Karen Nelson Moore on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Mr. Risher graduated with honors from Harvard College and with distinction from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif.

Professor David Grossman ’88, Managing Attorney and Faculty Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau; Clinical Professor of Law, HLS
David Grossman is Clinical Professor of Law as well as the Managing Attorney and Faculty Director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Prior to joining the Bureau, Mr. Grossman worked at the Legal Services Center as a staff attorney and clinical instructor in the Housing Unit. In 1997, he was appointed as the Senior Clinical Instructor and Managing Attorney of the Housing and Litigation Unit. Before joining the LSC staff, Mr. Grossman clerked on the Supreme Court of Israel from 1988 to 1989; litigated with the New York law firm of Kramer, Levin, Nessen, Kamin & Frankel from 1989 to 1992; and practiced poverty law with the firm of Community Lawyers in Jamaica Plain from 1992 to 1995. He has been active in a number of left-leaning Jewish organizations, including the New Israel Fund, and worked for the Israeli political party Meretz. Mr. Grossman received his B.A. in biology from Harvard College in 1980; his M.T.S. (Masters in Theological Studies) in world religions from Harvard Divinity School in 1983; and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review as well as a perennial clinical student, in 1988. Prior to his legal career, Mr. Grossman taught high school history, math and science and coached basketball in both the United States and Israel.